Saturday 20 October 2007


I have a (free) account with, and they tell me interesting things like the countries in which I'm being read; the keyword searches which lead to SiaB; the length of time people spend here before getting bored and going away (a startling number stay for '0 seconds'). The other day I noticed a lot had come from normblog... curious, thought I, and pootled off there to find out whys and wherefores.

Well, thank you Elaine! The lovely lady of Random
Jottings has entered the blogging hall of fame, in the form of a normblog profile. Have a look at it here. There are all sorts of questions about blogging, reading, politics, personality and so forth - bits and pieces which you might pick up from her blog, but which are usually in the background. Anyhow, in the course of this interview Elaine mentioned my blog as one of her favourites, hence what we in the business call increased traffic. Shucks, and thanks!

And this got me thinking... Before my blogging
days, as you probably know by now, I was (indeed, still am) a member of a Yahoo group - it began as a group devoted to those nice grey books I talk about quite a lot, but chatter is often about a whole range of books, which we call 'doveish' for want of a better word. There are only three of us from the day I joined (January 2004) but many past and present are very dear... whats?

That's the point of today's post. What are these people? Well, they're friends of course. I'd count many of you as that, too, of course. Most of you know more about me than colleagues I see everyday, and we certainly have more in common than many people I socialise with - the main reason I blog and am in the Yahoo group is because I love 'meeting' other people who love books like I do. But - or is just me? - do you ever feel embarrassed talking about FRIENDS when you've never met them? The whole thing can sound like people who hold online conventions about cartoon characters, or participate in online dating. Nothing wrong with those things, I daresay, but they're not what we're doing right here. Plus, let's face it, for the most part those things are a little geekier than we're willing to admit to. So... what do I say? At the moment I tend to say "e-friend" in an ironic, very postmodern sort of way. There just isn't the right language yet, or the right social knowledge of this sort of very real friendship.

Language aside, my question for you today is - which e-friend (for want of a better word) have you known the longest? How did you e-meet, and have you met in the Real World? What was it like?

My longest e-friends are mostly in the blogosphere now - Elaine at Random Jottings, Lisa at BlueStalking, and Lynne at Dovegreyreader. The other dovegreybooks Yahoo group member whom I've know since January 2004 is Lyn, who introduced me to it, and thus to a whole different life of reading, and this blog. Ruth, at Crafty People, joined around the same time, I think. I haven't met any of these people, but have met Karen at Cornflower, and Barbara and Jane from dovegreybooks. The former event was lovely, though I'd only been blogging for a fortnight or so, and had only just 'met' Karen online. The latter - met both of them at a book event, by design - was really, really nice. I thought it might be a bit awkward, but we had good fun and, though brief, it was a delight to put a face to a typeface. I don't seek out these meetings, but am not adverse to them if they occur - and think it would be great fun if they happen by coincidence. Doesn't blogging open up a lot of possibilities?!

p.s. for those who read this yesterday - Blogger is now letting me put up sketches again!


  1. I can't believe we've known each other nearly 4 years. And just think, if I hadn't reviewed Consequences (was it?) on amazon, we would never have met. I don't know what to call you all either! I'm always really excited if someone at work mentions a great blog they've just found called dovegreyreader or bluestalking (which has happened) and I can say I know Lynne or Lisa, but I've never met them. What is the word for this relationship? Will it be in the next edition of the OED?

  2. Longest email friendship? I joined an author/books-related email group back in 1996 (run through someone's business server) and it went onto yahoo groups (via one-group??) in 2000. There are list members from around the globe (mostly U.S., UK, & Canada). We first began getting people together in 1998 when I found out one member in Maine was going to be in NYC for the weekend on his birthday. I contacted all the folks I knew who lived in the area and organized a lunch (even though I couldn't be there). It's gone on from there - with many lunches or dinners anywhere there are two, three, or more available - mostly NYC, Boston/Cambridge, Brunswick Maine, even in the Cotswolds & Warwickshire.

    I've become very close to some of them. The friend in Maine invited me and my husband for the weekend just before I had major cancer surgery - and quite a few people asked to be kept up-to-date on that. There is now a small yahoo group of seven of us who have kept it up (off the other list) for four years. I limited the number of people to those I thought I could handle hearing _everything_ - & they listened. We now confide almost everything. Of the other six, I've met the one in Maine on numerous occasions, I've also met the one in Mississippi several times , and the one in Warwickshire & in Scotland - but have not met the one in Canada or the one in San Francisco (who has sent me flowers several times as well as Ghirardelli chocolates).

    We all share the Mapp and Lucia books and author, E.F. Benson in common - it's that original list that started it all - but Bensonites / Tillingites tend to share other interests too. There are a few others from the EFB list who I've met only in Rye, East Sussex when I've gone to "Tilling" for a gathering of like souls (from Scotland, France, Australia, & Canada).

    I think you were also in the short-lived dovediaries group too. I wish that had worked out and lasted - I really like reading diaries and letters. The owner of that list is on the EFBenson yahoo groups list.

  3. How about calling them "mouse pals"?

  4. I found your post and comments inspiring! Read about my email friendship on my friendship blog.


  5. Glad my mention of you increased your traffic Simon. In real life of course I have met Dovegreyreader, Crafty person and Ex Libris and Bluestalking reader, the latter two when we were in Chicago earlier this year. We spent hours in Borders - now there is a surprise, and never ran out of things to talk about. I also read brian dickie's blog (he is MD of Chicago Opera) and through that received an invitation to attend a rehearsal of an opera (duly blogged about) and met him in the person! I hope to be meeting up with Patternings (Ann) in the not too distant future and as I shall be visiting Edinburgh next year, hope to meet up with Cornflower and Fidra Books. What larks!

  6. I like the term e-friend, to tell you the truth! I've found myself talking to a friend or co-worker in person, and trying to say "My friend, I mean this person in Australia/Scotland/England/Texas that I correspond online with...." Obviously it seems a bit strange to them.


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